August 5, 2005

GCC: 3 Questions with Karin Gillespie

Meet Karin Gillespie, fellow Southern writer, funny lady, and known smarty-pants, who is also yet another in the Pantheon of Authors Whose Names Are Not Prounounced the Way They Look. Karin, in this case, is pronounced like "Anistasia." KIDDING! Ha ha! Say the word "Car" and then add an "in." Now you got it. Before coming a novelist, Karin was a special education teacher at an inner-city school and an editor of a regional parenting magazine. She’s also a bi-monthly columnist for the Augusta Chronicle. Her first novel, Bet Your Bottom Dollar, is in the process of being optioned by James Woods for film. (WOO!) Her second Novel in the Bottom Dollar Girls series isA Dollar Short, and it's out this month. Booklist says it's a "…Raucous southern spoof. Never a dull moment… this fast-paced screamer of a romance begs a giggle, if not a guffaw."

Now I will hush mah mouth and let Karin talk....

JJ: Did you always plan for the Bottom Dollar Girls to be a series? If not, how did it grow into in, and if so, did you structure the first book differently, knowing another would follow.

KG: This is the conversation I had with my agent when I got “the call.”

Agent: Good news! Simon and Schuster wants to buy your novel.
Me: Shriek! Shriek!
Agent; They think it should be a series. Do you have an idea for a second book?
Me: (Lying through my teeth) Of course, I have an idea for another book! I have ideas for gazillions of books.

So, no, I didn’t have a clue. But at that point I was willing to write a pop-up versions of the book if they wanted it. However I’ve found that writing a series is easier because you don’t have to re-create an entire universe with every book. I just wrote a book out of series and it was like cutting the grass with pinking shears when I'd gotten used to a riding lawn mower.

JJ: I read an interesting interview with you once where you talked about the difference between real life and (your) books, and how you want your characters to be larger than life----Can you talk a little but more about this here?

KG: I think every novelist has the task of making their characters seem realistic without being too realistic, i.e. boring. My Bottom Dollar Girls novels are humorous so characters in funny novels always tend to be a bit more colorful than say, the characters in a literary novel.

But yes, I think all characters in novels have to be somewhat large than life in order to be entertaining. I could write a book about my neighbor whose biggest passion in life is to rid his grass of weeds but I don’t think too many people would want to read it.

JJ: A lot of writers read this blog. You run a blog called Diary of a Hype Hag that looks at innovative ways to get the word out about your book. In fact, the GCC is your brainchild, and I think all of the authors involved in it have gotten a lot of of it. Give us an idea of how involved you think a writer needs to be in the promotion of their books?

KG: Authors have to be utterly involved because nobody cares about their book as much as they do. Sometimes I feel like I’m filling a swimming pool with an eye-dropper. Am I really making a difference? But doing promotion for your book is like writing a novel, if you do a little every day, suddenly you’ve made a discernible difference in your sales.

Promotion also has to be smart. I hear about authors wasting away in bookstores for hours, selling one book. That’s a poor use of their time. Learn what works and concentrate your efforts. There’s a lot of trial and error associated with the process. I, of course, believe in girl power to promote books that’s why I started the GCC.I also travel with three other Southern authors called the Dixie Divas. We’ve been touring together now for almost a year and it’s been a hoot. (I call us Thelma and Louise squared.)

We wear costumes and just turn the typical book-signing on its head. Nowadays, I get an invitation almost every day for the DDs to appear one place or the other. It’s just been the best way to promote books, and if an event is a dud we can commiserate with each other.

Posted by joshilyn at August 5, 2005 8:09 AM

Nicely done. I assume I am learning all this stuff by osmosis and will be a veritable marketing phenom by the time my book is done.... ;)

Posted by: Mir at August 5, 2005 9:57 AM

Running over to Karin's blog with my eye-dropper. Thanks, Joshilyn.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at August 5, 2005 10:16 AM

Great Q&A...captures Karin's marketing genius and her writing success, too.

Posted by: Mindy Friddle at August 5, 2005 11:48 AM

more books to my list, but best of all some very innovative marketing tips. Maybe it is something about spanish moss, humidity, and mint Juleps - because you guys come up with these great sayings... eyedroppers and swimming pools is daunting, and very descriptive all at the same time.

Posted by: Cele at August 5, 2005 12:20 PM

I'm off to the bookstore again! Love the DD's concept. The GCC is cool too.

Posted by: David at August 5, 2005 1:27 PM

Amazingly, our library has both of her books so I will have them hold them for me.

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